Rarely would we advise taking something a stranger hands to you in the street, especially in New York, but if you're offered something with Alexa Chung's face on it over the next five days, we give you permission to grab it (assuming your hands aren't frozen).
Branché (casually translated to mean "of the moment" or "plugged in") is a thin, matte, 42-page "pop-up magazine" put out by the editors of Marie Claire. Hearst has employed street teams to distributed a limited run of 30,000 copies in high-traffic areas of various NYC neighborhoods on Thursday (today), Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.
It's sort of like a New York City travel guide done in a digestible, cute (but not cutesy), fashiony way, with cool people like Chloe Sevigny, Jane Bishop and Johanna Stout dishing on their favorite places, brands and activities. While the magazine doesn't contain anything particularly illuminating, it's absolutely a fun, quick read -- the Alexa Chung interview is especially great, and I definitely have a few new places I want to check out. Plus, the magazine's one fashion editorial contains cute items from Zara and H&M, i.e. stuff I can actually afford to go out and buy. And, hey, it's free.
The reason for the $0 price tag is that the mag is completely paid for by advertisers, which also means 20 of the 42 pages (which includes the front and back covers) are ads. But weirdly, I barely noticed. Basically, every right-hand page is an ad, so if you just kind of pretend like that page isn't there as you flip through, you don't really notice them. (Sorry, advertisers.)
Interestingly, Branché doesn't have an online presence at all, though Marie Claire and its editors are promoting it through their social media channels. And while a rep from Hearst said there are no plans to launch pop-ups with its other titles, the company is planning to do another issue of Branché in the fall.
The launch also coincides with Marie Claire's biggest March issue ever in terms of ad pages -- another sign that print is far from dead.